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Showing posts from September, 2011

Have Your Customers Help You Write Your Strategic Plan

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Mike Brown, the founder of the Kansas City, MO company called, The Brainzooming Group, encourages business leaders to solicit feedback from their customers when creating a strategic plan.
Brown once wrote in Smart Companies Thinking Bigger magazine, that you should “ask a group of current, former and potential customers the following questions:"
If you’re a current or former customer, why did you start using us?What have we done in the past to make your biggest challenges more difficult?If you still use us, why do you continue to do so?If you don’t use us currently, what are some of the reasons why you don’t? “These questions are designed to allow your customers to share their perspectives and opinions openly, not rate performance on a numerical scale,” explained Brown.
He explained that the answers to the questions will provide you valuable insight into:
Your current strengths and weaknessesOpportunities to more successfully help your customersPotential challenges from not fully …

How To Help Your Team Provide Excellent Customer Service

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My favorite takeaways from Renee Evenson's newest book, Customer Service Management Training 101, are her tips for how to teach employees to effectively interact with customers:
Make a good first impression by smiling, making eye contact, maintaining an open and relaxed demeanor and keeping facial expressions friendly.Project a positive attitude by being helpful, interested, trustworthy, reassuring, respectful and reliable.Communicate effectively by listening completely, using correct grammar, asking the right questions and making each customer feel valued.Build relationships by finding the best solution to any problems, and making sure each customer is satisfied. Then, as the leader, ensure your team knows when they should escalate situations to your attention.

Break Out From Predictability

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Inspirational leadership wisdom today came from Bahram Akradi, the CEO of Life Time Fitness.

From that health club's monthly fitness magazine, Experience Life, Akradi says:

Once we get comfortable in our habitual patterns, we may fail to notice when they have outworn their useful purpose, or when new alternatives might serve us better.  Once you've encountered a second way of seeing things, you're more likely to entertain the possibility of a third and fourth way, too.Do something that makes you just a little bit uncomfortable--and that renders you a little more awake. Thanks Akradi for encouraging us to break out from predictability.

How To Assess Your Organization's Risk Using The 5Cs

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Within the first 100 days as a new leader in an organization, you'll want to assess your organization's risk.

Authors George Bradt, Jayme A. Clark and Jorge Pedraza, in their book, The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan (third edition due out on October 10), suggest you do your assessment using the 5Cs:
Customers: First line, customer chain, end users, influencersCollaborators: Suppliers, allies, government/community leadersCapabilities: Human, operational, financial, technical, key assetsCompetitors: Direct, indirect, potentialConditions: Social/demographic, political/government/regulatory, economic, market Use a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) as you examine each category if that helps.

Leaders: How To Maximize A Team's Effectiveness

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High-functioning teams can disagree and still produce excellent products and results. Team members can also disagree and still care about each other. And, they can challenge each other to think differently.

Best-selling leadership book authors Scott J. Allen and Mitchell Kusy recommend that leaders ask seven tough questions of their teams to help maximize their results. Here are those questions to ask each team member:
What are some obstacles affecting this team?What are opportunities we could take advantage of that we have been largely ignoring?Where can you take greater ownership on this team?Where have you let this team down?Compared to other teams with which you are familiar, how are we doing?When was the last time you complimented the team or one of its members?How open are you to giving direct feedback to team members?

The Most Common Ways Leaders Use LinkedIn

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According to market-research firm Lab42, top-level executives use LinkedIn the most for industry networking, while middle management individuals use the social network mostly for keeping in touch.

The more experienced professionals, versus entry-level professionals, use LinkedIn for:
Demonstrating thought leadership and expertisePromoting their businessesConducting market researchWinning new businessLinkedIn has more than 100 million members in more than 200 countries, on all seven continents.

A full recap of Lab42's findings (conducted in July 2011) are in the October issue of Entrepreneur magazine.

A few tips for leaders:
Participate in LinkedIn groups that cater to your target market to engage in conversation.Seek out groups with lots of activity rather than lots of members.Note that you can also now add your volunteer activities to your LinkedIn profile.  Here's how:
Open up your LinkedIn accountClick on ProfileClick on Edit ProfileClick on Add SectionsAdd the names of organ…

Your First 100 Days As A Leader Will Make Or Break You

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There are seven major onboarding land mines that you are likely to come across as a new leader and there are specific points in the first 100 days where you are most likely to encounter them, explain authors: George Brant Jayme A. Check Jorge Pedraza in their new third edition of, The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan, in bookstores and online on October 10.
Ill-prepared, without a plan, and lacking proper onboarding, the land mines will get you.  And, if you miss one or more of the critical tasks that must be accomplished in your first 100 days, you'll likely fail.
The book is packed with: Examples and case studies Action plans Tools, techniques and tricks of the trade The authors also explain why you need to start even before your official first day on the job. For example: Cultural engagement is extremely important in a successful transition; and it is essential that you know what your cultural engagement plan will be before walking in the door for Day One. A new leader's r…

How To Write Your Introduction For Your Speech

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If you are a leader who struggles writing introductions for your speeches, try these tips from Quick Study Academic (BarCharts, Inc.):

Prepare the audience to listen to your speech.Start with a statement that will grab your audience's attention to draw them into your speech.Ask a rhetorical question that does not require an answer.  Or, tell a good story.  Or, state something that will surprise your audience.  Perhaps surprise them with an amazing statistic.
Be sure your speech will be significant.  Motivate them to listen by telling them the reason the topic is relevant to their lives.Tell the audience why you are qualified to give the speech to build your credibility.State a thesis statement; a single declarative statement capsuling the central idea of the specific purpose of your speech.Provide a preview by listing each of the main points you will cover in your speech.  Your preview can be combined with your thesis statement if you wish.Memorize your introduction so you can main…

Answers To 5 Most Pressing Communications Challenges Leaders Face

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Leadership communications expert David Grossman recently answered what I believe are some of the most pressing communications challenges leaders face today:

How to present to a diverse employee audience with a single presentationHow often a leader should communicateWhat's the best way to deliver bad newsHow to be sure employees receive a consistent message when leaders must rely on middle managers to deliver itHow to effectively communicate via e-mail versus phoneDavid's answers, published in his blog today on his website, are straight-forward, practical and actionable.  And, that's what I like most about David's approach -- in his books, on his blog and via his speaking engagements.

Thanks David!

Quote For Aspiring Leaders

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"It isn't where you came from; it's where you are going that counts" -- Ella Fitzgerald

The Difference Between A Mission And A Vision

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Here's a good definition of the difference between a mission and a vision by leadership book authors George Bradt, Jayme A. Check and Jorge Pedraza:
Mission - A mission guides what people do every day.  It informs what roles need to exist in the organization.Vision - A vision is the picture of future success.  It helps define areas where the organization needs to be best in class and helps keep everyone aware of the essence of the company.

How Not To Run A Meeting

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At the next meeting you lead, don't:
Hold it if the meeting will seem unnecessary to your participants.Allow attendees to use their PDAs/laptops for personal reasons.Let participants interrupteach other.Go beyond your scheduled time.Those don'ts are the biggest meeting pet peeves according to an Accountemps survey of 1,000 senior managers, as recently reported in USA Today.

Instead, ensure you are doing these techniques to ensure you hold effective meetings:
Limit attendance. Include only decision makers and key implementors.Use an agenda. Give each topic a time limit. Ask your staff to help set the agenda so they'll know the meeting will be relevant.Make sure attendees know at the meeting's beginning the benefit of why they are in the meeting.Create a not-on-the agenda list of topics that will be tabled for after the meeting or for another meeting.Set immediate deadlines for carrying out all decisions that are made during the meeting.Start your meetings on time, and do…

Leadership Quote

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This quote from James Varrichio is inspiring:

"Motivated by achieving the impossible honorably."

How Will You Be Remembered As A Leader?

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As a leader, you likely have asked yourself, "How do I want to be remembered as a leader?"

But, perhaps the more important question is, "How will I be remembered as a leader?" The answer to that question is likely going to be based on the valuable lessons you shared with those you led, among other things.

The Kansas City Star newspaper last year wrote a story about Marion Laboratories and its 60th anniversary. In its heyday, Marion had 3,400 employees with sales of nearly $1 billion and in 1989 merged with Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals.

Mr. Ewing Kauffman, fondly known as Mr. K, led Marion during its peak, and is remembered as one of the most effective, influential leaders ever in the Kansas City area.

Former employees quoted in the newspaper article remember Mr. Kauffman as a leader who shared these lessons with them:
"You can do anything you want if you set your mind to it and if you study your competition.""You can't be afraid o…

Leadership Digital

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If you haven't visited LeadershipDigital recently, do so today. The aggregator website that launched earlier this year now gives you access to more than 50 bloggers who write about leadership and management, including:
Harvard Business ReviewThe Leadership AdvisorWomen On BusinessGreat Leadership N2Growth CEO BlogC-Level StrategiesManaging LeadershipWomen's Leadership ExchangeCoaching Tip....and you'll also find the postings of my blog, Eric Jacobson On Management And LeadershipYou can subscribe to receive a daily or weekly/monthly eNewsletter that delivers the best, update-to-date content to your e-mail inbox.


I spend hours on the site and with the eNewsletters benefitting from the wealth of content.

Why Leaders Should Support Volunteer Programs In The Workplace

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If you are a workplace leader who supports a volunteer program at your business, you already know that by encouraging employees to give back to the community you are: building teamworkmotivating employeesattracting new hiresIn fact, job seekers much prefer companies that have a strong volunteer program. And, a growing number of businesses are rewarding employees who volunteer by giving them extra vacation time and other incentives. Fortunately, throughout the country there are hundreds of volunteer opportunities where employees can contribute individually, or where leaders can organize teams of employees to volunteer together on a routine and scheduled basis. You can find organizations in need of volunteers by visiting the website, Volunteer Match, and typing in your zip code. You'll be presented a list of nearby volunteer opportunities. And, if you are a leader in the workforce, take note of the 2010 research that VolunteerMatch.org and United Healthcare published. They found compell…